Unless the Lord Builds the House
Today is mortgage burning Sunday at Dayton United Methodist Church!
The current sanctuary, with offices and classrooms, was completed in 2002 at a cost of about $3 million. The original mortgage was $1.8 million. In December of 2018 we made the last payment on that mortgage! We're debt free at Dayton UMC!
The building of this building required huge vision for reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It required the planning efforts of scores of people. It has required, through the years, the financial commitment of hundreds of people - some of whom were not part of the congregation when it was built. The result now is a beautiful facility where the name of Jesus is lifted up each Sunday and where countless people have received hope and transformation. And at last the mortgage is retired and it is paid in full.
Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain." (NIV) Building a beautiful church building is not the same thing as building the Church. The Church is not a building, it is a people who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and are being sanctified by His working in our lives.
Only the Lord can build His Church. Only Jesus can redeem lives. People can build buildings and even populate them with people. But that is not the same thing as building the Church. The Church is built when people come to place faith in Jesus Christ and follow Him in lives of discipleship. And in this church building at Dayton UMC, even while we have been paying the mortgage, the Church has been built by God as people have come to faith and lived out that faith in loving service.
What a joy and privilege it is to be part of the building of a church building. And it is an even greater joy and privilege to be part of the building of the Church. This building we have built and paid for will be used by God as a place for the transforming of lives far into the future. It is a legacy to the faithfulness of God to this congregation, and to the faithfulness of this congregation to God.
And that is something to celebrate greatly!